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Posts Tagged ‘Jai Courtney’

Jai Courtney, Lily James

“THE EXCEPTION” My rating: B-  

107 minutes | MPAA rating: R

At 88 years of age, Christopher Plummer just keeps getting better.

In “The Exception” he portrays an historic figure — Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany — and pretty much mops up the floor with actors half his age.

The premise of David Leveaux’s directing debut finds a young German officer — Capt. Stefan Brandt (Jai Courtney) — assigned to the thankless task of heading the household guard for Wilhelm II (Plummer), who has lived in exile in the Netherlands since abdicating the German throne two decades earlier after losing World War I.

Though the Nazi hierarchy has little use for the old man, Wilhelm still is regarded by some members of the German public as a beloved figurehead.  It would be a p.r. black eye should he be lost to an assassin or kidnapped by the Allies and spirited off to England. Brandt’s presence is meant to prevent that.

For the young officer — who was wounded in the invasion of Poland — the assignment is a bit of an insult. Wilhelm and his wife, Princess Hermine (Janet McTeer), live as high as they can on the cash Hitler’s henchmen provide, all the while dreaming of restoring the monarchy and once again wearing the crown.  Brandt is expected to tolerate their pretensions without encouraging them.

There’s one bright spot in this assignment. The Kaiser has a new housemaid, Mieke (Lily James), who catches the Captain’s eye.  Before long they are having a grand old time despite Hermine’s rule against copulation among members of the staff.

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Shia LaBeouf, Jai Courtney...patrolling an a post-apocalyptic wasteland

Shia LaBeouf, Jai Courtney…patrolling a post-apocalyptic wasteland

“MAN DOWN”  My rating: C

92 minutes | MPAA rating: R

There’s enough to admire in Dito Montiel’s “Man Down” that the film’s final reveal — a big fat slice of narrative cheese — feels like even more of a con job than it already is.

Montiel’s screenplay (with Adam G. Simon, who came up with the story) offers no fewer than six different “realities” for its Marine protagonist, Cpl. Gabriel Drummer (Shia LaBeouf).

The first of these realities unfolds in a post-apocalyptic near future. Here Gabriel and his Marine buddy and best friend Devin (Jai Courtney) pick their way through the ruins of an American city.  Bearded and dirty, they are looking for Gabriel’s young son John, who may be the captive of a group of feral survivors.

There are flashbacks to Gabriel’s peaceful home life with his wife Natalie (Kate Mara) and little John (Charlie Shotwell).  Gabriel will soon be shipping out, and he spends as much time as possible with his son.  They even come up with their own military-style code words for “I love you”:  Man Down.

Other passages are devoted to Gabriel and Devin’s basic training under the demanding Sergeant Miller (Tory Kittles), a sado-maso experience that will turn them into efficient fighting men.

One of the movie’s realities takes place in a dusty Marine outpost in Afghanistan where Gabriel is being counseled by Peyton (Gary Oldman), a military shrink.  It appears that Gabriel has undergone a  traumatic experience — and yet another “reality” depicts the day that Gabriel and Devin’s unit was ambushed by enemy fighters.

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Bruce Willis, Jai and

Bruce Willis, Jai Courtney and Sebastian Koch

“A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD” My rating: D (Opening wide on Feb. 15)

97 minutes | MPAA rating: R

“A Good Day to Die Hard” hits the trifecta.

Bad writing.

Bad directing.

Bad acting.

Actually, I was looking forward to the latest in the perennial series about NYC cop John McClane (Bruce Willis) who seems always to find himself in over his head with one crisis or another.

His last outing, 2007’s “Live Free or Die Hard,“ was a superior action film, thanks to the effective direction of Len Wiseman (of the “Underworld” franchise).

But “A Good Day…” finds the suddenly-ham-fisted John Moore in charge, and the thing is so goshawful from the first frame that I was tempted to get up after 10 minutes and call it a night. Alas, professional responsibility kept me seated.

At least this “Die Hard” is relatively short.

Skip Woods’ screenplay (his previous credits include the execrable “A-Team” and the barely better “X-Men Origins: Wolverine”) begins with John McClane saying goodbye to his daughter at an airport. Apparently his estranged son Jack has  gotten into some legal problems in Russia.

Once in Moscow John witnesses a terrorist attack on a courtroom where Jack (Aussie actor Jai Courtney) and the billionaire Russian dissident Komarov (Sebastian Koch), are on trial.  Turns out that far from being a criminal, Jack is a CIA agent assigned to rescue Komarov from the inside. (Why Komarov is important to the US is never explained. Get used to it.)

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